I was using a dabba to chop loose the soil for an another drip irrigated vegetable garden. As i dug, I could see that in this parched earth, at some time before me, someone had tried to grow sweet potatoes. As I dug, turning up the hard parched soil, a few little sweet potatoes about the size of a golf ball were turned up. I tossed them into a little pile. More and more potato pieces turned up, but I was mostly chopping the small sweet potatoes into little chunks as I dug and chopped the soil with my dabba. But I saved the potato chunks too, tossing them on the pile.
Thinking the diced tiny pieces were useless for food, I was in the process of scooping up the chunks of sweet potato in a double palm hand full, ready to throw them out, when three ladies came over to greet me and tell me I was doing good work. My neighbor was among them.
Poor is not a word to use for her. What is the next rung below poor? I greeted them and we chatted as I stood there with my double fist full of potato chunks. I could see my neighbor looking at them as we all chatted.
Then a horrible realization came over me. This is not garbage to be tossed out, this is a fist full of survival, of vitamins and minerals her family need.
Sheepishly, and playing the real stupid foreigner, which is an easy role for an expat to fulfill, I asked,
“Are these still good?”
She nodded a big hearty yes, so I pushed my hands forward, asking, “Would you like to have them?”
“No, you keep them.”, she said.
“No! Please, if they are still good, you take them.”, I enquiringly replied as I pushed my over flowing hands forward toward her again.
She smiled the biggest smile. My hands touched hers as we exchanged the small “gift”. Can you even call such an offering a gift? I wondered who else will dance a helpful life dance with people like her?
Poverty must be the best guaranteed weight loss program in the world I think. At one point my wife and I lived on two dollars a day each, sometimes only eating two meals a day. I lost 25 lbs in no time at all.
However, the honest truth is that I simply can not live like my neighbor. I’m not sure how she does it.
Sometimes faith people get it right. This statement is truth in my mind.
“If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” 1John 3:17 Bible NIV)